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Monday, May 15, 2006

How to Request a Recommendation Letter from a Former Employer

The best time to get a recommendation from an employer you’re leaving on good terms with is once you’ve given notice of your intent to leave your position. However, it is not uncommon to request a recommendation letter from a former employer, even 6 months to a year after you have left the company. It isn’t advisable to request a recommendation letter from a former employer if it’s been more than 2 years since you worked for them. Time has a way of causing memory to ‘fog’ and this is especially true in large companies wherein the employer has numerous ‘present day’ employees to keep tabs on.

If you had a super-close working relationship with your former employer: you might get away with a simple phone call to him or her requesting a recommendation letter from them. Keep in mind that it is much more professional to send your former employer a letter of request for a recommendation letter, and unless you are absolutely certain that your busy, former employer will be receptive to an incoming call, send a letter instead.

Sending a letter to request a recommendation letter from a former employer is a professional ‘courtesy’ that demonstrates that you respect the demands placed upon his or her time and how ‘valuable’ the time to respond to your request for a recommendation letter is. Most employers will tell you that they are more receptive to receiving letters requesting recommendations because letters can be put aside until time allows for them to be considered, written, and sent.

When you send your letter requesting a recommendation letter from a former employer it is advisable to mention some of the work you completed for the employer in your position with them., just to ‘jog’ their memory a bit. If you were responsible for the successful completion of some important projects, by all means: mention them.Don’t forget to share with your former employer your appreciation for the skills you gained while in their employ. If possible, illustrate how you intend to use those skills in the new position you’re seeking.

Include a SASE with your letter requesting a recommendation and respectfully request that your former employer send a response even if they decide that they are unable to grant you a recommendation letter. Remember that the more ‘courtesy’ you show to your former employer, the more likely you are to receive a positive recommendation letter from them.


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